ALL ASHORE The Mission to Seafarers Newsletter
Photo: Colin Kennedy
Chaplain’s thoughts Dear Family, The fields of Sociology, Theology, Psychology and Finance have given insights throughout COVID-19. We see social isolation affect many, people are seeking spiritual answers or reassurance. Many are feeling the strain of psychological trauma and others are counting the cost of this global pandemic, wondering about the personal implications for them or their families. COVID-19 has forced the Mission to consider what it means to not have access to our Seafarers, the safety of staff and volunteers, new ways of being relevant to Seafarers and the Port Community and how to survive. Stripped of opportunities to care directly for Seafarers we have turned to digital chaplaincy, online shopping and gangway care packs. Stripped of contact with Seafarers we have reached out via weekly videos, Social media, “chat to a chaplain” and trying to engage with crew and vessels. Stripped of volunteer contact, we have earnestly tried to be present with our family through phone calls, emails and Zoom (or GoTo) meetings. Normally we concentrate on how to connect Seafarers with their families, the community and each other. Now we are also thinking about how we do this with each other. COVID-19 has helped us rediscover our chaplaincy to the Port and broader community. This has been a great opportunity for us to go deeper into the lives of those who support and work alongside our Seafarers. I am reminded of the story in the Bible where Jesus is asleep in the boat during a huge storm and the disciples think they are all about to drown. All are stressed and worried and amid the dark and chaos, the impossible happens. Surprisingly, miraculously, all is made calm, peace is restored, hope is rebirthed. They are brought home, to a safe harbour, made whole again. My hope and prayer for us all, is that we can find this deep peace. A reassurance that all will be well, trusting God will navigate us home into a safe harbour.
ICMA Conference On 9-13th March 2020 staff, members and volunteers attended the ICMA (International Christian Maritime Association) Conference in Wellington New Zealand. The title of the Conference was: WINDS OF CHANGE. The purpose of the conference was to identify where we are now and where we see the future. Attendees came from Mission Centres in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region. In all, there were 50 participants who attended. We were lucky enough to have the international president of ICMAâ€”Jason Zuidema from Canada at the conference. Jason was the Chair of many sessions and provided invaluable insight into the mechanisms needed to keep cooperation, resilience and succession planning of services to Seafarers afloat.
Each day we shared a Daily Reflection from Rev Garry Dodd and Sr Mary Leahy OAM. We also enjoyed meeting and networking with our counterparts from other Mission Centres.
In late March we were forced to close the Mission due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As we all went into lockdown, we asked our Volunteers to share their experiences. Reflection on Isolation by Rick McCosker I’ve just started out on my morning walk on Redhead Beach reflecting on the new additions to our vocabulary in 2020 – social distancing, self isolation, lockdown and now, tracing app. – when I notice that there are eight cargo vessels drifting off shore. I wonder if I, or any of our ship visitors, have been on board any of those vessels during a possible previous visit to our Port and recall the times of helping and interacting with the many seafarers who visit us. It has only been a couple of months but seems much longer than that and I feel a sense of frustration at what has been happening. As I plod along my imagination wanders, to one of those vessels ..........” my name is Ricardo, I’m a Filipino 3rd Officer and this is my second visit to Newcastle. As we drift along the coast waiting for authority to enter our berth, I recall my last visit to Newcastle and the “Seamen’s Club” where we were so well looked after. But this time there will be no shore leave because of the Coronavirus. I’m very disappointed as this has been difficult times for us at sea and I still don’t know whether my wife and little son back in Manilla are safe from the virus.” I continue on my walk, occasionally glancing at the vessels and realise that the only thing I can do at this time is to offer up a prayer for those on board and for their families. As I do, I remember that today is Thursday, a day that some of us would normally be interacting with the many Ricardos either on board their vessel, in the Mission bus, in the shop or even at the evening Mass service in the chapel, and the feeling of frustration turns to sadness. These thoughts lead me to reflect on how lucky Meryl and I have been - some freedom for shopping and exercise, gardening, reading and catching up with family in Melbourne, New Zealand and France via technology, and being able to commemorate an amazing Anzac day. At the same time we need to be mindful of so many people world-wide who have been affected by COVID-19, but hope for a better world.
The Ravenscrofts in lockdown ….. How have we been managing in lockdown? That is a vex question because we have had to invent ways of doing the things to keep us interested and also keeping up sufficient exercise so that our ageing bodies don't lose their resilience and strength. We have been guided by the four R's. routine, replenish, release, revise. Our photos depict how we have done some of this: Routine: has helped us plan our days, but to be flexible when things suddenly arise that need our attention. Replenish: time has been spent in reflection and prayer each morning including listening to the daily devotion COVID 19 Prayer from CMF (Christian Medical Fellowship in the UK). Beth has been getting up at dawn and taking photographs of the sunrise as each is unique and reflects the glory of God. Peter finds it hard to get up at such an unearthly hour and does his reflection under the quilt. Release: through our activities of walking, aerobics and listening to music, we have relaxed knowing
that this is life for us for the moment. Peter misses swimming and has tried to swim in the lounge room. It didn’t go particularly well as a chair got in the way! Revise: We have set ourselves tasks doing a little each day – as there is always tomorrow. Peter is writing a history of the time when he was at the Hospice. In between time, exercising has assumed some importance and he has found kayaking in the lounge room to be very pleasant pastime. Beth has taken up piano lessons via Zoom with a music teacher friend, so that means practise. Spring cleaning of garage and cupboards has been great as we have found things that have been lost for ages. Telephoning friends who are isolated and family fills in quite a few minutes of the day We have found Sundays relaxing not have having to turn out for church. We have a leisurely breakfast and then watch the service on YouTube. Sitting on our comfortable lounge chairs with a cup of coffee and taking in the church service seems a far cry from sitting on hard pews. We are still keeping fit doing aerobics and using our ship visiting simulator!
Life in ISO by Julianne McLeod “Sit down Mum, you’re creating a breeze!” How many times was I accused of that misdemeanour while our daughters were living at home! I hurley-burleyed through my working life like a whirlwind, seemingly attracting more tasks than my colleagues! If you want something done, ask a busy person! True! Retirement arrived and I thought, okay, now’s the time to slow down my girl! However, I seemed to be asked to join many groups, a drama group, a Zumba class, some volunteer ship-visiting at the Mission to Seafarers, a book group and a discussion group. I said ‘yes’ to all as I had plenty of time, now, or so I thought! In actual fact, towards the end of last year, I declared to my husband, “Stop the world I want to get off!” Well, Covid 19 stopped the world and I got off. Life in lockdown has meant for me, time to stop and smell the roses and catch up on all those little projects that have been haunting me, since I retired. I have restored furniture, completed 10 year-old unfinished sewing projects, scanned heaps of photos and documents belonging to my parents who died 11 years ago, made costumes for my drama group, spring-cleaned most of the cupboards and drawers in the house and felt mighty virtuous and totally self-satisfied. I have still been taking my Zumba classes live-streamed on the internet and even continuing my bagpipe lessons via Skype. Of course, my drama rehearsals have stopped but there are always lines to learn for our next production, sometime in the unknown future. My husband told me that this might be what retirement is supposed to be like! It’s such a pity that it took this horror pandemic for the world to reset, slow down, spend quality time with household members and realise that life doesn’t have to be so frenetic. I look forward to the time when I can hug and kiss my daughters and my grandchildren, see my friends and visit my gorgeous seafarers once again.
God! You have given us life so that we might bring your love into the world. Continue to guide our heart with the courage we need to give selflessly to others. Grant us the strength we need to look beyond ourselves, offering joy to others and to you. Amen
Seafarers are now unable to come ashore or benefit from crew changes. So how can we help? With the support of Port of Newcastle, NCIG and the local community, we have been able to make care packs with some goodies to brighten the seafarers day. We also have a weekly prayer and reflection time to let the Seafarers know of our support for them.
A big thankyou to all our volunteers for your amazing efforts and contributions to our Seafarers.
HOW TO DONATE
Mission to Seafarers Newcastle
BSB: 062 834 ACC: 1018 3930
+61 2 4961 5007
PO Box 3
(All donations $2.00 and over are tax deductible)
Wickham NSW 2293